Health experts say chronic pain may be emotional rather than physical

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 10:43AM
Many health experts speculate back pain, stomach aches, TMJ and more, might actually be attributed to how our brain is dealing with emotional issues.


Fitness pro Christine Lusita's life came to a halt when horrible pain began to rage through her neck and arms. Lusita, who was writing a health book at the time, said it was debilitating.

"Opening the refrigerator or doing anything in front of me, every little movement hurt," said Lusita.

Her initial diagnosis was Thoracic outlet syndrome, but three years and many doctors later she found out her pain had more to do with her brain than her body.

"When I learned to work with my brain and talk to myself, all my pain went away," said Lusita.

"We call it chronic pain: Pain that's lasted more than three to six months. There can be a huge factor of the mind, the brain, and emotions in that pain," said Dr. David Schechter.

Schechter specializes in treating TMS, or tension myo-neural syndrome. He wrote a book called, "Think away your pain."

He typically sees patients with back pain, tension headaches, IBS and jaw pain. He feels certain personality types are more susceptible.

"Are they hard on themselves, responsible, perfectionists? We call this the type 'T' personality," said Schechter.

Emotions can create internal body tension. It's a problem that seems to start in middle age and move from there.

"There's more wear and tear on our body as we get old, yet the peak of chronic pain is people in their late 30s, 40s, early 50s." Schechter said.

Dr. Alexis Daniels is a chiropractor who sees a lot of this. She uses a roller coaster ride as an example of what happens when we face a stressful situation.

"There are studies that show that people who perceive something is bad then have physical changes in their body that reflect that. People that think that something is good feel differently," said Daniels.

All the experts understand the pain is real, but they recommend trying "brain to body" treatments first, as other modalities may be painful and also expensive.

Like the journaling technique Schechter says is very effective, or therapy.

"Over 70 percent of people who are willing to embark on this process get dramatic if not complete pain relief," said Schechter.
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